4 Your Eyez Only

Sophomore Salma Sada listens to

Sophomore Salma Sada listens to “4 Your Eyez Only” on Spotify.

Album: “4 Your Eyez Only”

Artist: J Cole

Genre: Hip Hop

Release Date: December 9, 2016

Our Rating: A

On his much anticipated follow up to Forest Hill Drive, released two years ago, J. Cole throws himself knee deep into rap activism, speaking about serious issues affecting his daily life. He reveals to the listener that fame and fortune have allowed him to become influential to the masses, but not a strong enough force to discourage others from profiling him due to his race.

“Immortal”

Immortal represents the idea of crime paired with police brutality, memorializing those lost to gun violence. It begins with memories of J Cole’s youth, where his friends participate in the exchange of narcotics. Cole realizes the drug industry is not a positive environment to take part in as he has witnessed many friends perish, thanks to the inhumanity of the industry, but realizes it can be lucrative. Acknowledging he has lost many to the drug market, he continues to dabble in the danger because money is all that matters in the moment. He concludes the song by hinting at how society created the idea that in order for African Americans to be successful, they have to sell drugs, become well-known rappers, or make it into professional basketball: ideals that hold them back from reaching their full potential.

“4 Your Eyez Only”

The recurring theme of J Cole’s latest album is the commemoration of his late friend James McMillan, murdered at age 22 in North Carolina. 4 Your Eyez Only highlights his memory by saying the album is meant for McMillan’s daughter and the listeners’ ears only. The song is meant to begin in the perspective of his friend, who was unable to live a life that was segregated from crime. His decisions led him on a path where living on the streets was his only option. He realizes he could see himself as nothing but a criminal because the media has forced that mentality on young men, suggesting they must go into a life of crime because of their upbringing. The song concludes with Cole telling the listener how McMillan was trying to make clean money to provide for his family however, the difficulty he faces trying to find employment due to his criminal record puts pressure on him. Because of this pressure, he asks if he should give into the temptation and go back to making the easy drug money-which he knows will be ensued by his demise.

“I really appreciate this new album because J Cole evolved from his previous album and found his voice as a musician,” sophomore Brianna Curran said.

The compilation of songs on his album create a unified vision of clear scrutiny toward tensions tormenting the black community: racial profiling, mass incarceration, police brutality, and the idea of a “macho” culture. Highlighting these battles on the track “Neighbors”, Cole shares how his rich neighbors feel he has engaged in illegal activity to create his fortune.